Hyundai unveils electric car i10

Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea’s largest automaker, plans to begin assembling an electric version of the i10 hatchback by the end of the year, the company’s first model to run solely on battery power.

The company, which has presence in India through a 100 per cent subsidiary, today showcased the electric car version of its small car i10 at the 10th Auto Expo in New Delhi.

"We hope that the heightened interest in electric vehicles (EVs) will present us with a huge opportunity to bring in this technology to the Indian market in the near future," Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) Director (Marketing and Sales) Arvind Saxena said.

He, however, declined to give any time frame as to when the electric vehicles would be introduced in India. "A growing awareness among consumers for all things green inspired us to introduce the electric cars and the version of our compact car i10," Saxena said.

The i10 electric car was first unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September last year and the company plans to produce the car in limited numbers for the South Korean market from this year.

In place of the 1.1 or 1.2 litre petrol engines which power it here and overseas, this zero-emissions urban commuter will be powered by a 49kW (66.6 PS) electric motor under the hood and driving its front wheels.

Providing the juice to the motor would be a 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack which promises a range of 160km on a full charge and a top whack of 130km/h. These are pretty decent figures for a car of its class and also competent enough to hold its own against its petrol-engined siblings.

Currently, only Reva produces electric car four wheelers for the Indian market. The i10 was globally launched in India in 2007, which clocked sales of over 3 lakh units in 2009.

Besides, the company also showcased the sports variant of its luxury sedan Genesis at the auto show.

Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. all plan to sell electric cars as rising oil prices and growing environmental concerns spur investment in alternative-energy vehicles. Automakers are set to introduce 42 electric models worldwide by 2012, according to an October study by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Hyundai will sell the electric i10 initially to governments, Saxena said without elaborating. The company doesn’t plan to sell the car India because of the lack of necessary infrastructure, according to Saxena.